SAN ANTONIO – A total of 1,000 people walked or ran against one main enemy Saturday morning in San Antonio: Multiple sclerosis.
Multiple sclerosis, or MS, is a disease that affects the brain and body and can be potentially debilitating. Although aggressive, its symptoms are unpredictable and its cause is unknown.
During the MS Walk San Antonio 2020, some participants ran, others walked and all honored the community of victims whose diagnosis is often painful, confusing or isolating.
“With any disease, it’s something you don’t know how you’re going to deal with it,” Chris Potter said. “It’s depressing. You kind of get in a funk.”
Potter lives with MS and like him, some people may be symptom-free most of their lives.
“When I was 15, I was hospitalized for three days. I couldn’t walk and the doctors couldn’t figure out what (was wrong),” Potter said. “At that time, MS was not really well-known.”
It wasn't until the age of 30 that doctors diagnosed Potter with Relapse Remitting MS. It's a form of MS that causes symptoms to come and go.
"(At the age of 30) I lost vision in one of my eye(s)," Potter said.
His sight was restored thanks to his MS medication, but the fear of another MS flare-up is something MSG Herbert Robles knows all too well. Robles leads the JROTC program at Central Catholic High School.
“The way we found out that (my wife) had a MS was (that she) lost her eyesight,” Robles said. “For somebody to wake up one morning and not be able to see is a terrifying experience.”
Robles says her eyesight has returned, but other families at Saturday’s walk are dealing with other forms of MS that keeps getting worse and gradually robs victims of all mobility known as Primary or Secondary Progressive MS.
Both Robles and others walk to help those victims and do whatever they can to bring hope.
"We have brought 58 cadets from Central Catholic High School's JROTC program," Robles said. "It's extra special."
The cadets are aware of the struggles Robles’ wife deals with, due to her MS diagnosis.
“These kids love to come out and be a part of everything that’s happening (at the MS walk),” Robles said. “We teach servant leadership at our school. It’s about giving back.”
Cindy Rodriguez is one of the organizers for the MS walk. She’s thankful for all the volunteers, donors and participants. According to Rodriguez, the money raised through the MS walk help fund research locally and abroad.
“We work together with MS Center International Federation to find the most promising research sites out there,” Rodriguez said. “We’ve been able to fund a lot of new medications and disease-modifying treatments that are available to those that are living with them.”
To learn more about the MS walk, visit the National MS Society’s website here.
Rodriguez is also the senior coordinator for Bike MS, a fall event that helps raise awareness through bikes.
The two-day event will take place on October 3 and 4, 2020. Cyclists will have their choice to ride 38 to 100 miles to help end MS.
For more information on the Bike MS San Antonio event, click here.